ANGELES CITY — The Pampanga Giant Lanterns and the Quezon City Capitals found ways to win on Saturday night to get back on track in the MPBL Lakan Seasn at the AUF Arena here.
Pampanga outlasted Bulacan, 69-63.
Mark Cruz and Riel Cervantes, two ex-pros picked up by the ADG Construction-backed Pampanga team, stepped up when needed the most.
Cruz, the smallest man in the league, played big down the stretch, scoring five crucial points. He finished with a double-double performance of 14 points and 10 assists.
Then there’s Cervantes, who also tallied 14 markers.
With his team protecting a shaky 64-63 lead, the 6-foot-4 stretch big hit a crucial trey that gave Pampanga the lead with 19 seconds left, after receiving a nice kick out pass from Michael Juico. His basket put pressure on the side of Bulacan.
That forced the opposing team to get the best shot available but Roldan Sara, the deadshot guard who hit a triple earlier, misfired from the corner. Dexter Maiquez was able to grab the rebound.
Maiquez hit two free throws for the final tally.
“I don’t know the details why we lost our last two games, but one thing I’ve noticed in our third game, we didn’t play with good chemistry in our last two games. Tonight, we were able to address that as we played much better on both ends of the court,” said Pampanga coach Bong Ramos.
Ramos also believes that the tournament has become a wide open race for the championship.
“The league has become very competitive. You cannot be complacent against any team,” added Ramos. “This is definitely good for the league.”
Earlier, Quezon City edged Iloilo, 84-80, as four players ended in double figures.
Joco Tayongtong led the way for the Capitals with 20 points followed by Tonino Gonzaga, who contributed 13